The Big Palin Debate is tonight. Yes, there will also be some other guy named Biden there, but come on, nobody cares about him. And it turns out that nobody cared about last week’s presidential debate either, because it turned out to be such a gaffe-free event. Intelligent questions combined with a more or less civil exchange of ideas are such a yawner.
No, tonight’s debate is all about Palin. Collectively, we still can’t look away, even when it seems she is about to enthusiastically drive off a cliff. Perhaps especially if we think she is about to enthusiastically drive off a cliff.
Will we see the old confident, teleprompter reader? Will we see the stumbling, deer-in-the-headlights look in response to simple questions? Will there be some kind of earpiece feeding her answers? Will she take out a shotgun and shoot a moose to demonstrate the kind of leadership this country needs? Will she blather on and on, occasionally shouting out random talking points? Mostly, is she going to be the 1985 Patriots and take the beating everyone expects, or will she be the 2007 Giants and shock everyone with an effective pass rush (or something else that might save that metaphor)?
Palin may sound dumb, but in her defense, many of the positions she is asked to defend would make anyone sound dumb. I would bet that six months ago, she herself would have laughed out loud at the suggestion that she has any relevant foreign policy experience. Nonetheless, the campaign demands that she have some, and the best answer they can give is that she can see Russia from her house. It may not be that she is dumb so much as the campaign’s lies have to be so big now to maintain their narrative that only dead-ender conservatives can swallow them.
Nonetheless, as a liberal, I have been conditioned to expect that if bad things can happen, they will. Karl Rove has taught me that there is no advantage that can’t be undermined by enough mud and smoke and there is no disaster that can’t be twisted into partisan advantage by those who serve darkness.
The easy money is on Palin being completely out of her league tonight. But therein lies the problem. The expectations are so low that if she does not start spontaneously speaking in tongues or personally grab a community organizer out of the audience to be publicly crucified, she will have beat expectations.
So, my mood going in is cautiously nervous. I honestly don’t care if she says something dumb or remains gaffe-free. I just want someone to expose all the lies she has told and for her extreme religious beliefs to come out in the open.
Even if that happens, however, Palin still wins because lies are boring and gaffes are entertaining, and tonight, anything less than entertainment will be a Palin/McCain victory.